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Our Own Manchester Glastonbury- song, film, dance, chai tea and cushions!

The end of June saw us at the Grand Hall in The Whitworth to mark Refugee Week 2023.
Based around the theme of compassion in action, this was an afternoon of joyous song, film
and dance bringing together sanctuary seekers and Manchester residents.

The Power of Music
Local sanctuary seekers came together to entertain with the Sanctuary Sounds Choir; this
got the vocal cords warmed up as the audience were actively encouraged to join in the
choruses. Forget Glastonbury, we had our own sing-along!
The idea of the healing power of music carried on in the screening of the film Samos on
Fire featuring a group of musicians in a refugee camp in Samos who made music despite
fighting against so many practical barriers- including fire and even earthquakes alongside
the difficult process of seeking asylum. The musicians from a variety of countries kept
meeting up to play, to find momentary solace in their music.
The uplifting soundtrack to the film played on in the Grand Hall while we re-energised with

My first Chai Tea
The Whitworth staff served chai tea and baklava. At first, I resisted….- I’ve always been a
firm coffee not tea drinker but a Whitworth staff member convinced me to try on this hot,
humid day………….I was an instant convert to the spicy beverage, amazingly refreshing
whilst the storm clouds gathered outside.

Dancing Amongst the Art
All ages were then dancing downstairs in one of the galleries with the Afrocats; you find
yourself joining in even if you were convinced you’d never dance in public again.
Other visitors toured the exhibition Traces of displacement which uncovers the experiences
of artists who were displaced from their homelands, forced to flee and survived to create
works elsewhere.

And the cushions?
Wonderful, colourful cushions made by sanctuary seekers via a project in The Whitworth
were on sale to help support the work of Manchester City of Sanctuary. Look out for these
colourful creations on future stalls –they brighten up any space.

Donations are always welcome to carry on the work of Manchester City of Sanctuary

Here comes the storm….
And to round off that Glastonbury vibe, after a hot day of music, dance and new
experiences….the day ended with a most fantastic thunderstorm outside .

Massive thanks to The Whitworth staff,  volunteers and our friends from Music Action International, Afrocats and Freddie the director of Samos on Fire.


Helen G – MCoS Volunteer